Why Does Square Enix Squander So Many Great Franchises?

There's plenty of publishers that overuse franchises to death. However, there's some like Square Enix that just refuse to do anything with their valuable IPs. No matter how much fans clamor for a remake or a sequel to the games below, Square Enix has been non-committal.

However, Square Enix, in a recent earnings call, stated that they're open to using any IPs, new, active, or inactive in their push for new mid-range games for the Nintendo Switch. This means that maybe some of the iconic IPs that have fallen by the wayside over the years may see a chance at revival.

The five series below are the Square Enix franchises we hope see a new sequel or remake. These games have stood the test of time, and are almost universally beloved, and deserve a chance to shine again.

ActRaiser

Quintet was a studio who basically acted as a second-party developer for Enix. Many of its games were published through them, with one of the most notable being Actraiser. In part, Actraiser is a traditional side-scroller, but it has a unique twist. You play as The Master, and part of the game involves growing and maintaining a civilization. These parts are played from an overhead view of a human village and starting with two individuals, you have to encourage their growth.

Your civilization's growth is impeded by lairs of flying monsters. You can't directly interfere with the human's growth so you have to perform "miracles" until they reach the point they can seal the lairs. This spin on the god game genre is incredibly engaging, and even though there was an Actraiser 2, it removed the simulation aspects in favor of being a pure side-scroller.

Actraiser accomplished a task that many god games don't. It managed to balance the simulation aspect with actually thrusting you into the world to fight the human's enemies. This made the whole experience feel more personal, and with the advancements in gaming tech, I think a new Actraiser could be an exceptional experience that no other recent game offers.

Chrono Trigger/Chrono Cross

Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross are two of the most beloved RPGs of all time, and fans have been clamoring for a sequel since Chrono Cross was released in 1999. The worst thing about Square not continuing the series is that it has the perfect setting for a sequel. Both plots heavily involve time travel and alternate dimensions, so a sequel could start anywhere in the 65,000,000 or so year span that we saw in the first two games.

At the very least Square could localize Radical Dreamers, a SNES Satelliview-only side story set after Chrono Trigger. Radical Dreamers eventually evolved into Chrono Cross, and the events within can't be held as canon due to inconsistencies with Chrono Cross, but it'd be great for fans of the series.

Whether or not a sequel will never be released is still up in the air. Square has never declared the series dead, and in the early 2000s, a trademark was filed for Chrono Break, a project that never made it off the ground. Many of the people who worked on Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross have left Square, though, but there's always the possibility that the franchise will return, especially given the continued enthusiasm for the idea from its fanbase.

E.V.O.: The Search for Eden

E.V.O.: The Search for Eden is the second game in a series developed by Almanic and published by Enix. The first game, 46 Okunen Monogatari ~The Shinka Ron~, was Japan-only, but The Search for Eden was localized in 1993 and released on the SNES. E.V.O. has you controlling a creature through five worlds representing five geological periods of Earth. Along the way, you must accrue Evolution Points, which you can use to evolve new body parts. Your creature has eight different sections that can be upgraded, and each upgrade gives you better movement, offensive, and defensive abilities.

Few games at the time had the customization that E.V.O.: The Search for Eden does, and although the side-scrolling gameplay is a bit clunky, it stands as a unique title in the SNES library. This series was basically Spore before Spore was ever thought of, and the evolutionary mechanics are intriguing even today. Almanic was separate from Enix, but the majority of its titles were published by them. The chance of a new E.V.O. is kinda slim. Almanic eventually was renamed Givro Corp. and closed in 1998, and who knows who even has the rights to the series anymore.

Parasite Eve

The survival horror series Parasite Eve first debuted in 1998, acting as the follow-up to Japanese author Hideaki Sena’s novel of the same name. Combining tried-and-true elements of action, role-playing, and horror gaming, the franchise had an explosive start in 1998 with its first PlayStation installment. It introduced NYPD detective Aya Brea as she struggled with a malevolent lifeform known as “Eve,” who wants to eventually birth the Ultimate Being by way of the forced evolution of human mitochondria.

The game spawned a sequel in 2000, Parasite Eve II that was well-received by both fans and critics. But, there wasn’t another peep out of the series until The 3rd Birthday, a PSP exclusive that didn’t reach North America until 2010. The 3rd Birthday featured only tenuous connections to the first two games and acted as a “rebirth” of sorts for Aya Brea, though it didn’t exactly catch on with audiences the way the prior two games did. It’s been nearly a decade since then, and we’ve heard absolutely nothing about Aya, Parasite Eve, or the franchise as a whole. It’s a shame since there’s so much left to explore and so many new ways to do it. Here’s hoping it’s about time for a surprise like The 3rd Birthday to come along again.

Xenogears

While Final Fantasy VII had a relatively straightforward story of good vs. evil, Square's next RPG, Xenogears, was a whole lot more convoluted. Xenogears shows that not all complex video game stories have to be a ridiculous mess with its themes dealing with religion, politics, control, and what it means to be human. The twists and turns, along with the incredible Gears let this game stand out at a time when 10/10 jRPGs were a dime a dozen.

The odd thing about there never being a true sequel or prequel to Xenogears is that six entries in the series had already been charted out. Square released a book called Xenogears PERFECT WORKS: the Real thing that detailed how the rest of the franchise would play out, but unfortunately, we were left with the one entry. Series creator Tetsuya Takahashi left Square in 1999 and formed Monolith Soft where he produced the spiritual successor Xenosaga and its sequels. However, Xenosaga lacks the punch that Xenogears has, and the inability to call back to events and people in Xenogears left Xenosaga feeling a bit too disconnected.

Xenogears is one of the best RPGs of all time, and this is another missed opportunity for Square to establish a series that appealed to more mature audiences. With Takahashi still at the helm at Monolith Soft, it's unlikely we'll ever see the Xenogears saga the way it was meant to play out.